Pastoral Care and Politics: a book review

Pastoral Care is often thought of on a purely micro level—counseling congregants through a crisis, walking alongside families in grief, or shepherding local congregations. Political theology, on the other hand, describes political, economic, social structures and practices, examining the issues at a more macro level. But what if there is a deep link between the political and the personal? What if the best way to care for souls, is to care for the polis—providing a framework for the flourishing of both individual persons and the common good?

9781498205214 Ryan LaMothe is professor of pastoral care and counseling at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology.  In Care of Souls, Care of Polis: Towards a Political Pastoral Theology(Cascade Books, 2017), LaMothe develops “a hermeneutical framework for analyzing systemic issues.” Rather than conceptualizing pastoral care as an individualized discipline, LaMothe places pastoral care within the frame of care and justice, describing and understanding its import as a political concept.

In the first 4 chapters, LaMothe describes a conceptual framework for pastoral political theology, in chapters 5-8 he examines the macro issues of empire, neoliberal Captialism, class, and related issues which erode care and justice. He also suggests ways for the church to be an alternative polis.

In chapter 1, LaMothe provides an overview of the polis (society) and politics in political theologies:

[P]olitical theologies, generally speaking, are concerned with how human beings organize themselves in time and space, as well as with how human beings survive and flourish. The political theological activities of reflection and action presuppose not only a particular religious mythos but also other knowledge systems (e.g. philosophy, human sciences) used to examine and critique political institutions, realities and issues of a particular societal context and era (22).

LaMothe notes (following Daniel Bell) that if all theologies are political than pastoral theologies are as well, and he notes a number of ways political-economic realities impact pastoral care, “Domestic violence, adequate medical care, food insecurity, widespread incarceration and economic poverty and numerous other areas of concern, reflection and care are intertwined with political-economic factors, though these issues may not be in the foreground of pastoral theological focus” (22).  LaMothe argues that the lens of care—not just for individual souls, but for the polis—enables to more readily see the political implications and connections in pastoral care.

[A] political pastoral theology, grounded in the Christian mythos, aims to understand and assess current political-economic narratives, issues, institutions and structures, and to develop programs and policies that are themselves assessed and critiqued. A central interpretative framework for these aims is the notion of care, informed by the Christian tradition and the human sciences and aimed at the survival, flourishing and liberation of individuals, communities, society and the earth. Care of the polis necessarily includes a cooperation of diverse others, and thus a political pastoral theology must attend to the communicative practices of a society (29).

In chapter 2, LaMothe considers the relationship between care and politics. He argues that care is aimed not just at a person’s survival, but at the flourishing of communities and families—the common good (47).  He draws on the notion of kenosis (Christ’s self-emptying) as a model of care for the Other, and posits that for communities and society to flourish, the notion of care (whether pastoral care, government, NGOs, etc) is a necessity.

This comes into sharper focus in chapter 3. LaMothe relates the concepts of care and justice in political pastoral care, drawing on black liberation theology and South and Central American liberation theology. Lamothe takes the emphasis in liberation theology on (1) attention to the community, (2)the preferential option of the poor and (3) responsiveness toward oppression and argues that political pastoral theologians be mindful of and respondent to the systemic oppression and marginalized in society (83). LaMothe argues that while both justice and care are necessary for human flourishing, a viable, and thriving polis depends on a rigorous ethic of care—where all members of society are recognized as valued (92). Justice is necessary to correct wrongdoing and repair relationships, but in creation itself, notions of care precede justice (and enemy love and forgiveness are expectations):

An ethic of care is grounded in the ontological reality of creation, and human beings are cocreators particularly through recognizing and treating Others as persons. This cocreation of the space of appearances ideally occurs in parent-child relations, family relations, communities and societies. A viable polis, then relies on an ethics of care, and it is an ethics of care that grounds an assessment and critique of political-economic institutions, structures and policies (92).

Chapter 4 argues for a civil and redemptive discourse both in political and pastoral speech.  LaMothe notes, “a polis begins to shrivel and die when civil discourse is replaced with self-certain, self-aggrandizing, intransigent monologues that aim at coercing the Other into acceptance of one’s singular vision of the world” (95). He warns against totalizing speech, and urges us to follow Jesus’ kenotic example of self-emptying (Phil 2:7), and discover ways of speaking in civil (and pastoral!) discourse which are both humble and hospitable:

Kenosis is the difficult discipline of clearing the psychic room to make space for and welcome the Other in reverence and this psychic room is related to the space of appearances of the polis. The fruits of a kenotic discipline are humility and hospitality, which are key to redemptive discourse and its aims of inviting, revering, respecting and understanding the Other. This is redemptive because it seeks to overcome alienation by inviting the possibility of real meetings between persons in the midst of disagreement (123).

This recovery of redemptive speech is necessary if we are to find ways to care for our increasingly fragmented world. “We need a redemptive discourse that rejects the facile pleasures of self-certain total explanations that opts for the belief in and practice of just and caring speech in the face of hostility and hatred” (127).

Chapters 5-8 describe overlapping macro, political issues and how they relate to pastoral care. In chapter 5, LaMothe examines the way empire is part of our U.S. cultural DNA. U.S. history exhibits the imperial and expansionist aims of empire, and as an empire in decline, it has become increasingly violent (131). LaMothe describes the emergence of the U.S. Empire, its carelessness and injustice. He argues that the church ought to provide an alternative narrative to Empire, not in the sense of being anti-imperial—as in the polar opposite of empire in every respect—but by providing an alternative version of what it means to be human:

While Jesus grew up in a world where Roman imperialism was daily fare, his ministry, his way of being in the world, was not based in opposition to empire. In other words, Jesus’s public actions were not anti-imperialistic, but were alterimperialistic in the sense that Jesus offered an alternative, and this alternative is represented by the term kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is not in opposition to the imperium, at least in the direct sense. Rather, it is an alternative polis that has nothing to do with imperial practices. Indeed, imperial policies and practices are inconceivable in a kingdom based on love, compassion, care, mercy, justice and forgiveness (152-53).

And so LaMothe describes ways for the church or other communities which oppose empire, of being an ‘alterempire.’ 

Chapter 6 describes the contributions of neoliberal capitalism to suffering in the polis and the subsequent distortion of Christian theology (à la the Prosperity gospel). Classically, Max Weber envisioned a robust Protestantism as both enabling the development of capitalism and restraining its acquisitiveness (173). That is, capitalism was subordinated to Judeo-Christian values and anthropology. However, under neoliberal capitalism, the engine of acquisition drives and distorts our theological understandings instead. Material wealth and success are seen as the signifiers of divine blessing.

Here too, LaMothe commends us toward an altercapitalism:

As a small polis, the ecclesia promotes, through liturgy, preaching, retreats, classes, and stories, the standards Christian virtues of faith, hope and love—virtues necessary for the care and justice. Indeed, the very notions of care, justice and the common good are tied to these virtues so that the notions do not become distorted by the values associated with the market society (i.e. with the commodification of care). Living as an altercaptialist community necessarily includes being deliberate about nurturing interpersonal relations and fostering a critical reflective stance toward the larger society so that community members and leaders are not co-opted by the hegemonic discourse associated with the values and expectations of the market. An altercapitalist community serves, then, as a countercultural entity by developing subjects with capacities for a type of critical thinking connected to caring virtues and for the kind of social relations that are personal. (196).

Chapter 7 extends this political-economic analysis with a critique on classism, pointing to the example of the early church attempting to live as an alterclass community where all members were mutually cared for. “Yes, they failed, at least with regard to perpetuating this kind of community. But they succeeded in imagining a community that did not depend on or reproduce class” (229).

Chapter 8 closes the book with a look at several relevant issues for a political pastoral theology: climate change, education, healthcare, the judicial system, the politics of exclusion.

LaMothe writes as pastoral theologian teaching in a seminary; however, the notions of care for the common good, and the focus on macro issues which erode care and justice, makes much of what LaMothe says applicable to any community resistant to the dominant voice of U.S. Empire. LaMothe’s chief interlocutors are the gospels, Paul and Liberation Theology, but the concept of being alterempire (promoting an alternative to imperial and expansionists aims and advocating justice and care) is a word for activists of all stripes, faith traditions, and ideologies.

While this book was published in 2017, and many of the issues raised here are relevant to Trump’s America our damaging long pedigree and the examples of U.S. Empire, Neoliberal capitalist distortions, classism, exclusion, etc,  LaMothe cites are from an earlier era (Obama and before). Still, LaMothe’s discussion of self-aggrandizing totalizing speech and the need for redemptive discourse struck me as a particularly appropriate warning against our current polarizing political speech.

 LaMothe is sympathetic to radical politics and doesn’t interact as much with Protestant political theologies (briefly O’Donovan and Volf, no James K. A. Smith). Certainly, there are evangelicals that see a broad overlap of politics and pastoral ministry (e.g. David Lane, Mike Huckabee, Jerry Falwell, Jr), though they often are not as cognizant of the socio-economic impact of empire, class and economics which LaMothe highlights here.

LaMothe points pastoral care practitioners toward a greater awareness of systemic problems which complicate care. This will be a helpful resource for pastors and congregational leaders, as well as theological instructors and students. I give it four stars – ★★★★

Notice of material connection: I received a copy of this book from Wipf & Stock books in exchange for my honest review. Cascade Books is an imprint of Wipf & Stock.


A Christianity Immersed in Empire: a book review

It is fashionable, in some theological circles, to speak of the Constantinian compromise. Constantine’s victory (and conversion?) in 312 CE issued in an era of religious freedom for Christians which they previously had not enjoyed. But it also started the ball rolling in terms of the centralizing of the power of the bishops, and eventually Rome in the West, and led to doctrinal compromises as the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic church sought to accommodate itself to the demands of Empire.

9781626981942Wes Howard-Brook does not doubt that this trajectory toward Empire replaced the spirituality and prophetic critique of Jesus in the life of the Church. His previous book, Come Out My People! ( Orbis, 2010), was a reading of the biblical narrative which contrasted Jesus’ liberationist movement—the ‘religion of Creation’ called the Kingdom of God—with the religion of Empire—imperial readings of the Bible which wink at (state supported) violence and shave off Jesus’ radical, prophetic edge.  However, Howard-Brook doesn’t envision this shift happening within Constantine’s lifetime or afterward but sees the genesis much earlier. In Empire Baptized (Orbis, 2016), he traces the shift toward Empire (and creation abstracting & denying spirituality) developed in the writings of Christian thinkers in the 2nd to 5th centuries and the ways their thought still hold sway today.

In his first chapter, Howard-Brook provides an overview of the Roman imperial context,  its social and economic structures and religious life. In the next six chapters, he examines how the Christian movement developed along imperial lines, focusing his study on the cities of Alexandria and Carthage, Greek and Latin centers of Christian thought. Chapter two looks at these cities’ histories and their key Christians in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Centuries.

In chapter three, Howard-Brook describes how the developing biblical hermeneutic of the Fathers, while rejecting Marcion and Gnostic readings, embraced a Neo-Platonism which abstracted physical life. This had the effect of weakening Jesus’ political and social critiques. Speaking of Origen, who held sway over the developing Biblical hermeneutic both East and West, Howard-Brook writes, “Origen (and the church around him) proclaims a “gospel” about a “soul” whose fate was separate from the body. Could a Jewish man like Jesus even understand what it meant? With this claim, any Christian concern for the human body, for the physical creation, and for the whole social-economic structure of society is put aside in favor of the question of the “soul’s fate in the afterlife” (88).

The rest of the book traces how Christian writers like Tertullian, Clement, Origen, Cyprian, Athanasius, Jerome, Ambrose, and Augustine continued to abstract the Christian life from creation and physical life, while at the same time imbibing the cultural values of Empire (evidenced by a misogyny which paralleled Roman cultural values and unwillingness to challenge the status-quo).  Constantine does have a significant impact on the church, as bishops began to adopt ceremonies and raiments of the imperial court and revise their image of Christ along royal lines (i.e. icons of Christ as Lawgiver and Judge sitting on a jeweled throne) (198).

Howard-Brook does his homework and his book is thoroughly researched. Yet he does not offer here, a sympathetic reading of the Church Fathers (their voices most often mediated through secondary sources). He frequently faults the Fathers for the way they catered toward elites and the how they adapted their theology to fit their own circumstance (such as Jerome’s preaching against riches while assigning a higher place in the afterlife to ‘the Christian scholar’, 247).  Surprisingly, he does end up saying nice things about Augustine, the frequent whipping boy of all that is wrong in Western Theology. He describes him as a theologian who ‘took a path of moderation between the extremes promoted by others in his context’ (265), though of course, he goes on to fault him for his handling of the Donatists, his promotion of ‘state-sponsored violence,’ and Pelagius.

I enjoyed this book and I think Howard-Brook offers an important perspective on the development of Christian doctrine. Jesus did challenge the kingdoms of this Age in the way that later generations of Christians did not. There is a trajectory toward Empire, Neo-Platonism, and the status-quo in Church history. However, by profiling particular thinkers, through particular lenses, he is able to construct his narrative and parse the evidence in a certain way. He doesn’t highlight prophetic and counter voices to Empire throughout this period or pastoral aspects of his chief interlocutors. I wished at times he applied a more of a generous reading of the patristic period, though I appreciate the critique he levels and think it is substantive. I give this five stars. ★★★★

Notice of Material Connection: I received this book from SpeakEasy in exchange for my honest review.

Unkingdom Come as it is in Heaven: a book review

Whatever we say about the Kingdom of God it is not like any other kingdom we’ve seen. To say Jesus is Lord is to declare Caesar is not and to sound the death knells on empires everywhere. In The Unkingdom of God: Embracing the Subversive Power of Repentance author Mark Van Steenwyk examines how the gospel is about far more than personal transformation. It exposes the lies of consumerism, the dehumanizing effects of the powers on communal life, and the myraid ways that ’empire’ or ‘Christendom’ poison the well. The good news is that real freedom from powers and structures is possible According to Van Steenwyk, Christ’s kingdom is an unkingdom where Jesus is unking (96).  In Christ it is possible to live with a group of people (church) without being ruled.

If you haven’t guessed from the above description, Van Steenwyk is a part of two maligned and poorly understood groups: he is a Mennonite and an anarchist. As a Mennonite and therefore stands within a tradition which strives to be a faithful witness to Christ while looking suspiciously at the Constantinian drift in the wider culture. He is also an anarchist challenging the dehumanizing structures and powers at in our society. These converge in his vocation as pastor of the Mennonite Worker in Minneapolis, his work as an editor for  and as host of the Iconoclast podcast. The themes of this book were also addressed in an earlier book, The Holy Anarchistthough this volume is better executed and crafted.

Van Steenwyk has some challenging stuff to say and he says it well, but the thing that makes this book a compelling read is how he weaves his theological and sociological reflections together with his personal narrative. He tells of his early camp conversion and the radical streak he had which was effectively exorcised by the charismatic church he grew up in.. As a young teen he was a patriotic, cowboy hat wearing Garth Brook’s fan brought to tears singing ‘I’m proud to be an American.” Yet as his faith matured, Van Steenwyk began to question the evangelism-as-conquest approach of his Evangelical upbringing, and the highly individualistic gospel he had proclaimed. This set him on a journey to a more communal and political witness (or apolitical, though not in the apathetic, disengaged sense).

Van Steenwyk is astute at naming the insidious nature of structures and powers, controlling-myths that blind us, the false promises of consumerism, and the ways that religion, even Christianity, can be a enslaving power, rather than a wellspring of freedom in Christ. In the latter part of the book he invites us into practices which help us enter more fully into the Unkingdom of God:  He invites us to encounter the feral God through experimenting with God, embracing our creaturleliness,and practicing silence (121-6); he summoned us to walk with Christ with a localized imagination, paying attention to what is in front of us, and learning from the margins (133-8). He calls us to discern the subversive spirit through open worship and consensus decision-making, the practice of naming powers and resisting, and ‘arguing with Jesus’ through engaging both scripture and what is rising in us in opposition as we read (145-9).

It is a testament to how good a book is, when upon finishing it, I have no desire to place it on the shelf–marked off as done and collecting dust. I’ve thumbed back through the pages several times already, re-reading passages I had underlined. There is so much here that causes me to examine again the way racism, unjustice to Native-Americans, the marginalization of children, the bankruptcy of political discourse on the right and left are the effects of empire and institutionalized structures. I also love how vulnerably Van Steenwyk tells his own story. Sometimes anarchists/anabaptists are dismissed as idealists who don’t live in the real world. Van Steenwyk shares the ways he has struggled to move from patterns that are selfish and accommodating to the dominant culture to a lifestyle that is more communal, more radical and ultimately more faithful to the gospel.

I need books like this. There are a lot of ways where I would be out of step with Van Steenwyk. I am challenged by and enlivened by the writings of Anabaptists and Christian anarachy. The former because it is part of my heritage, the latter because I have been a part of churches with an unhealthy authority structure, and in my own role as pastor have sought to lead in ways that were non-manipulative.  Still I sit somewhat outside of both camps. Van Steenwyk call is to a faithfulness to the gospel and resistance to the powers. I can get behind both objections even if I demur from his conclusions at various points (i.e. consensus leadership, his handling of Romans 13, etc). I still happily give this book 5 stars and recommend it for anyone who  would like an accessible and thoughtful take on the life of radical discipleship. ★★★★★

Thank you to SpeakEasy for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

King Jesus v. the Emperor: a book review

The influence of post-colonial approaches to biblical hermeneutics and other recent scholarship has meant that the New Testament has been read with an eye  towards its sociopolitical implications. Modern authors as diverse as Warren Carter, John Dominic Crossan, Richard Horsley, and N.T. Wright have observed that declaring that Jesus was the Son of God and Lord in a first century Roman context, offered an implicit critique of the emperor. If Jesus is Lord then Caesar is not.

Jesus is Lord Caesar is Not: Evaluating Empire in New Testament Studies edited by Scot McKnight and Joseph B Modica

While these readings have been insightful and instructive, Scot McKnight and Joseph Modica have gathered a team of scholars who offer a chastened view of the empire-critical approach.  All of the essays in Jesus is Lord, Caesar is Not acknowledge that the Lordship of Christ would cause some degree of enmity with Imperial Rome.  So nowhere do the authors of this book suggest that there are not political implications to believing the gospel; yet they do point out  where the contemporary case against the emperor, waged in the academy, goes beyond the bounds of the New Testament witness.  An exclusively political reading of the Bible obscures other dimensions of the gospel proclamation.

Jesus is Lord, Caesar is Not divides into ten chapters. The forward, introduction and first couple of chapters look at the broad theme of empire and the New Testament. The remaining chapters examine various New Testament books assessing what they say (and do not say) about empire and recent literature. Andy Crouch‘s forward teases out some of the implications of this study and sums up its insights. After a brief introduction by McKnight and Modica, David  Nystrom opens the book with a look at the Roman imperial cult and ideology.   Nystrom is a specialist in Roman History and examines how the Emperor used the imperial cult to consolidate his power and  re-enforced  the ‘entire compass of Roman civilization (36). Nystorm’s chapter illuminates the first century context, reveals some scholarly missteps (i.e. reading a contemporary context back into the text), and shows us where the gospel does challenge imperial authority. Judith Diehl‘s essay examines the Anti-imperial rhetoric of the New Testament and surveys recent discussions and approaches. Social scientific, post colonial and literary approaches reveals an imperial critique which until recently remained obscure.

Joel Willitts examines Matthew’s gospel. Willitts suggests that Matthew was not anti-imperial as such but describes how Jesus is the Messiah. Willitts writes:

 Matthew was hailing the coming of Israel’s Davidic Messiah and announcing the concomitant restoration of the kingdom of Israel. To the extent  that Israel’s restoration would be an assault on any earthly kingdom, Matthew’s gospel opposed Rome. But, and this is a significant point, Matthew was neither critiquing “empire” per se nor singling out Rome uniquely. To take this view would be to inappropriately diminish Matthew’s message. Jesus is not only or primarily God’s answer to Rome. Jesus is God’s answer to Israel’s unfulfilled story. A story, as it turns out, not only about Israel. It is a story that encompasses all the kingdoms and nations of the world (Mt. 4:8; 28:19-20)(97).

Dean Pinter‘s examination of Luke and recent scholarly literature reveals that the gospel is not simply a ‘pro-empire’ text. However he cautions that “questions of empire should not set the primary agenda for reading the Gospel of Luke either” (112).  There are points where Luke is critical of Imperial policy but he does not write ‘against Rome’ either.  Pinter writes,

Luke is a political thinker but the question is whether his primary polarity is between Jesus as Lord and Caesar as Lord. A more appropriate polarity would be construed this way: Luke is interested in social inequalities and how they are intertwined with demonic powers and their challenge against God’s sovereignty in the larger cosmic battles (113).

This allows for a much more nuanced view of Luke’s critique of Roman culture.

Similarly Christopher Skinner‘s exploration of John shows that its author is primarily concerned with the incarnate Logos. Nevertheless he goes to great pains to suggest that John does speak to the realm of Empire and contains an implicit critique of Rome. This is interesting because John’s gospel is not typically a ‘anti-imperial’ go-to text.

Drew Strait discusses Acts. Of particular interest is his discussion of the political implications of the Ascension. In the Greco-Roman world ascension into heaven accompanied the process of becoming a god (134).  Caesar Augustus himself  took advantage of the political ramifications f Julius Caesar’s ascent (proclaimed by Augustus at games held in Julius Caesar’s honor). While Strait cautions that you  cannot separate the ascension from its Judaic roots, he acknowledges that for Luke’s audience to make the association between Christ’s ascension and Caesar’s was thoroughly plausible (135).  Throughout Acts, Strait wants us to hear the implications of  Jesus lordship, but he suggests this is more a theological than revolutionary claim and in the first century and would be more offensive to Jewish listeners than Caesar’s agents (144).

Michael Bird‘s chapter is the standout essay of the volume. In discussion Romans, he demonstrates that while  Paul wrote his book more as a ‘pastoral theology’ than a ‘political manifesto,’ Paul was thoroughly cognizant of the sociopolitical realities of the Roman Empire (161).  Paul’s gospel was the antithesis of  all Rome stood for. Bird’s essay appears to give the most credence to empire criticism :

Paul’s euangelion is the Royal announcement that God’s dikaiosyne avails for believing Jews and Greeks, but bad news for the powers because of the concurrent revelation of God’s wrath against idolatry and wickedness (Romans 1:8).  Paul’s letter to the Romans is delivered to the heart of the empire with a bold thesis that there is only one true Lord, Jesus Christ. The violence of Roman military power and the foolishness of Roman religion will all collapse under the weight of the kingdom of Christ. Should a Roman official have read Romans, the letter would have appeared to be the ravings of a fanatical Eastern superstition, politically malicious at best and seditious at worst.

Two other chapters discuss the Pauline epistles relationship to Empire. Lynn Cohick examines Philippians and empire while Allan Bevere discusses Colossians (and Philemon). Cohick gives some great information on the imperial cult (the practice included the worship of Caesar’s ancestors not simply the living Caesar) but like other authors in this volume, she questions the assumption that the political reading (i.e. Empire criticism) does full justice to the eschatological dimensions to the text.  Bevere offers a stinging critique of Walsh and Keesmaat’s Colossians Remixed Certainly there are aspects of Colossians that call the Empire into question, but Walsh and Keesmaat also gloss over aspects of Colossians which do not cohere with their empire-critical reading (i.e. Jewish elements in the Colossian philosophy). I have read and enjoyed Walsh and Keesmaat’s text several times, but I think that Bevere’s critique carries some freight.

Dwight Sheet discusses Revelation, an apocalyptic book which has been read for its explicit critique of the  Roman Empire (likely during the time of Domitian).  Sheet argues that the language of Revelation  indicates an expectation of Christ’s imminent return.

Mcknight and Modica sum up the insights of this book with three observations:

  1. The reality of the Roman Empire needs to be reckoned with in New Testament studies.
  2. The Kingdom of God is not in opposition to the Roman Empire but the Kingdom of Satan.
  3. The New Testament writers show readers how to live in the ‘already but not yet’  daily realities of empire (212-3).

This is a worthwhile read and I found it challenging and insightful. I am personally sympathetic and enamored with many of the empire-critical approaches to New Testament studies.  I think the gospel does call into question the Emperor and the ruling hegemony, both in the first century and in the twenty-first. However reading the Bible with an agenda  obscures its message.  The New Testament is not uniformly critical of Empire and the authors have other concerns besides the imperial cult.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the sociopolitical implications of the Bible. These authors are even-handed in their presentation and demonstrate that Jesus’ Lordship does indeed call into question the Lordship of Caesar, at least in the ultimate sense. However the Kingdom of God is far richer and more interesting than a critique of earthly political regimes.  This book will enrich your study of the New Testament and help you evaluate current academic trends. I give this book ★★★★.

Thank you to InterVarsity Academic for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.